NEW ORLEANS —
A veteran New Orleans police commander is preparing to take the reins of the NOPD.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Monday announced she has selected Commander Shaun Ferguson to be the city’s next police superintendent.
“Commander Shaun Ferguson is a man that I met as a community leader right here in the city of New Orleans,” Cantrell said. “When we talk about neighborhood policing, I have been a part of that on the ground and with him as my commander.”
Ferguson is considered a rising star at the department. He carries the civil service rank of Lieutenant but wears the white "commander" uniform under the policy adopted by former Supt. Ronal Serpas to accelerate the promotions of bright talent in the ranks.
One of his first supervisory posts was in the 2nd Police District, where he commanded the crimes against person unit. From there, he was tapped to become the commander of the 4th District when Commander Brian Weiss was forced to resign in a scandal we covered.
After another command shakeup, Ferguson landed back in the 2nd as the DIU Commander, overseeing all district investigations, both property and person crimes. After a brief stint as a homicide supervisor, Ferguson went back to the 2nd District as commander. Then, with a command shakeup in the summer of 2018, Ferguson was named the commander of the training academy, an important and high-profile post under the NOPD consent decree.
Harrison announced last week that he would retire from the NOPD and move to Baltimore to lead its police department. His appointment must be approved by the Baltimore City Council.
Cantrell said she offered Ferguson the job last Wednesday.
“I called him up and I said, ‘Are you ready to be my chief, the next chief of the NOPD?’” Cantrell said. "Phone went silent. I don't think he slept the next night."
He promised to continue the reforms made under Superintendent Michael Harrison, who is retiring to lead the Baltimore Police Department.
"Constitutional policing practices will remain our top value as we engage and serve you as we have sworn to do," Ferguson said. "I understand community engagement is a necessity. We are partners in this."
Ferguson, 46, grew up in the Lower 9th Ward and Algiers. He graduated from O.P. Walker High School and Southern University at New Orleans.
Ferguson thanked his fellow NOPD officers for helping to prepare him as a leader.
"I will stand by and stand with you all through the thick and thin," Ferguson said. "However, accountability must be maintained at every level, including at my level."
Harrison said Ferguson will be able to hit the ground running.
"I don't think he's going to find a lot of surprises," Harrison said. "It's just a matter of learning the job, stepping into the role and going out and executing. Of course, he had one area of responsibility. Now he has all areas of responsibility."
Fraternal Order of Police attorney Donovan Livaccari said Ferguson has a good reputation with the department's rank and file.
"We're happy that the mayor picked someone from within the department," Livaccari said. "I think that over the last few years there have been some really good opportunities to develop leaders within the department."
Ferguson will be sworn in as police superintendent on Friday, Jan. 18.
WWL-TV reporter Michael Perlstein contributed to this report.
Paul Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.